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On May 30-31, 2024, within the International Association of Constitutional Law (IACL), the Research Group on “Constitutional Responses to Terrorism”, chaired by Prof. Kim L. Scheppele (Princeton University, United States) and coordinated by Prof. Arianna Vedaschi (Bocconi University, Italy), will hold its Annual Workshop on “Advanced Technologies in Emergencies. The Downfall of the Transparency Principle in Counter-Terrorism and Warfare?”. The event, supported by the Asociación de Constitucionalistas de España (ACE – Spanish Association of Constitutional Law), is organized by Associate Prof. Susana Sánchez Ferro (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid) and the venue will be the Centro de Estudios Políticos y Constitucionales in Madrid (Spain).

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WORKSHOP THEMES AND FORMAT

This Workshop aims at analysing the main issues arising from the breakthroughs of technology in the context of the fight against terrorism (international and domestic) and other emergencies that have significant links with the struggle against terrorist threat, such as war – a continuously evolving concept frequently taking “hybrid” forms.

It is a matter of fact that robots and computers are becoming able to make decisions affecting human lives. The development of such “intelligent technologies”, relying on machine learning and selflearning algorithms, is deeply changing, among others, the way emergencies are dealt with. Counterterrorism is a paradigmatic example in this regard, as artificial intelligence (AI) is increasingly resorted to by intelligence and law enforcement bodies in surveillance programmes to automatize the collection, analysis and sharing of information, which is then often classified by competent authorities. Not to mention the wide use of technology in situations where the need to fight against terrorism brings to full-fledged military operations; in this case, autonomous weapons with the ability to select targets, unmanned aerial and underwater vehicles, cruise missiles based on AI play a pivotal role.

Against this background, discussion is needed on several topics. To what extent are these tools able to comply with rule of law standards? For instance, what about the principle of transparency when these technologies – often undisclosed and inaccessible – are used in such a sensitive field as that of emergency? How fair is it to rely on classified evidence, resulting from the application of these tools, in judicial and administrative proceedings? To what extent would human control and meaningful assessment on the machine’s decision be necessary to comply with human rights? Ultimately, are these mechanisms a potential threat to human dignity or a necessary step towards a more efficient and well-working pattern to manage emergencies? These thorny issues are relevant from several perspectives: legal, military, ethical, philosophical, and political implications are involved, and this Workshop will try to examine them thoroughly.

The event will feature the participation of prominent speakers, both academics and practitioners, who will give their insight on this complex and multi-layered topic.

In addition, the Organizers of the Workshop welcome the submission of papers dealing with the workshop topics. Authors of selected proposals will be invited to present their work at the Conference.

Proposed topics for papers to be submitted include but are not limited to:

  • Algorithmic surveillance.
  • The use of surveillance tools framed to fight international terrorism in the struggle against (resurging) domestic terrorism.
  • Domestic terrorism, technology and online content moderation: countering fake news, white-supremacist propaganda and other threats.
  • The use of classified evidence collected through advanced technology tools and its use in court proceedings.
  • The risk of lack of transparency and responsibility laying behind automation.
  • Potential discriminations related to the use of technology in emergencies.
  • Drones and other unmanned weapons in military operations: legal challenges.
  • AI and military strategic planning.
  • The risks deriving from the terrorist use of automated systems.

The Organizers will welcome not only papers taking a legal perspective, but also proposals adopting a political science or philosophical approach.

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES AND TIMING

Interested scholars are invited to submit an abstract (in English, no longer than 500 words), only via email and only to 

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by January 31, 2024.

The file shall be submitted in .doc, .docx or .pdf format and named “Surname_Name_Abstract”. The subject line of the e-mail shall be composed as follows: “CRT WS submission – Surname Name”. Full name, email address and affiliation of the applicant shall be written at the head of the document.

Abstracts will be reviewed by the Scientific Committee and acceptance will be notified by February 29, 2024.

Selected participants should send their full papers (no longer than 8000 words, including footnotes) no later than May 5, 2024.

TRAVEL COSTS AND ACCOMMODATION

Please note that the Organizers will not be able to cover travel and accommodation costs. All selected participants will be responsible for their own expenses.

The IACL Research Group on Constitutional Responses to Terrorism

Who We Are and Our Activities

Constitutional Responses to Terrorism” is an established permanent Research Group within the International Association of Constitutional Law (IACL). The Group aims at connecting scholars from all over the globe working in the field of counter-terrorism, human rights and national security, but also those focusing on related topics, in order to create an internationally active and specialised network of experts, joining their knowledge to build fresh and innovative understandings. The final goal of this Research Group is to contribute to academic research on the matter and, at the same time, enhance the awareness of policy makers, concretely drafting counter-terrorism measures, on the need to find a fair, but increasingly challenging, balance between fundamental rights and security. The Group constantly took part in past World Congresses (Johannesburg 2022; Seoul 2018; Oslo 2014; Mexico City 2010) and organized other thematic conferences (e.g., “Counter-Terrorism at the Crossroads between International, Regional and Domestic Law”, held at Bocconi University, Milan, Italy, on June 13-14, 2019). The most recent publication of the Research Group is “9/11 and the Rise of Global Anti-Terrorism Law: How the UN Security Council Rules the World” (Vedaschi-Scheppele eds., Cambridge University Press, 2021).